Richelle Webb Dixon, the COO and Senior Vice President at Froedtert Hospital recently spoke on “The Healthy Community Conversation” on how racism in healthcare affects the health of a community. As a compassionate leader seeking equality in the healthcare atmosphere, she details some of the ways healthcare professionals can assist people of color against adversity.
“US healthcare leaders always talk about ‘testing the experiment’. Several decades ago, healthcare professionals discussed not treating African American men with syphilis to see the effects it had on their bodies.
“When you come from an African American perspective, there is a distrust in healthcare. When we talk about having trust with our healthcare provider, it is not there. We think ‘they do not like me, or respect me, and hence we do not feel seen’. So, despite needing healthcare, we may not seek it.
“To me, racism in healthcare means assuming that individuals are not going to always come to us. We need to go to them and meet them where they are. For example, there is a barbershop with a health clinic inside. That is so important because African American men are going to get their hair cut, and that is a space they feel comfortable in. So is it important to have the services right there in a space where they already feel safe.
“Another common example is in schools. If you do not have transportation or a regular physician, can you still seek services? As a hospital we have partnerships with schools so we can meet our constituents and clients where they are.
“I purposefully do not call them patients, because you are not a patient until you are an in-patient, or once you are inside our facilities. Otherwise, you are our consumer, our consumer of health.
“So we consider how to meet you where you are to provide those services.”